India Pale Ales (IPA)

[Beer Reviews] Southern Tier Brewing Company’s Overpacked Mixed 15 Pack

Back when I first got into craft beer and drove to an area with vastly different distribution than what I’m used to one of the first brewiest I latched on to that weren’t readily available to me was Southern Tier. Of course, my first introduction was the wildly popular Pumking, but I also really dug releases like Live, 2XIPA, and their oak aged Unearthly. To this day when I find myself face to face with some of my favorites and new releases I do not hesitate to bring some home with me. Most recently I stumbled across their “new to me” mixed 15-pack jam packed with all new beers or new recipients I hadn’t had the chance to try–with the exception of Tangier. So with all that new, how could I resist the urge to chat/write about them?

Instead of deep diving into each beer like I would normally do with a full on beer review, this will be a collection of quick observations based on my own notes as I worked my way through this pack. Before we even begin I’ll lay down an unnecessary spoiler alert that if you can get this, then get it. Each beer is well worth introducing to your taste buds regardless of the fact that they might not redefine the beer landscape. 

2xSmash – I’ve never been one interested in following much a unified strategy when I sit down to enjoy multiple different styles of beer in a sitting. So naturally the first out of the pack is the single malt, single hop Double IPA. Pouring deep gold with a fingers worth of head and settling beautifully in the glass. Lots of malt and grapefruit on the nose which transitions nicely into the beer’s actual flavor profile. The initial smack of grapefruit smooths out over the palate finishing with a mostly pleasant malty backbone. A very balanced first impression of the pack that–for my taste–allows the malt to take over more than I generally look for. Rating: B

German Pils – Anyone who visits regularly (which lets be honest, is wishful thinking) may have noticed a bit of a drought on the page in recent months. The reasons have been two-fold. One is more of a focus on personal life (which includes work and my beautiful 18-month old daughter). The second is a bit of fatigue–both in other commitments with my movie opinions and with my tastes in craft beer. Over that time I’ve rekindled a love of the delights within light lagers. ST’s German Pils is a delightful take on the style that pours transparently golden with a soapy head. Visually the carbonations bubbles satisfyingly slide up the glass giving it a refreshing appearance. Light aramatics include noble hops and biscuity malts. The flavor profile is more hop forward than your traditional German Pilsner, but remains crisp, crackers and crushable–reminiscent of another American take on the style, Pivo, from Firestone Walker. Rating: B+

Citra Hopped Live – Fresh ST Live was a euphoric experience way back when I first had it. It became harder and harder to locate bottles within anything resembling why would be considered fresh whenever I was looking to buy some. Much to my delight I came across this pack with their updated recipe and well within the fresh threshhold. More of the same in its appearance. Golden beer with a soapy head and crisp citrusy nose–pineapple coming through predominantly. Much of the same on taste. Light mouthfeel, pineapple and crisp citrus finish. Refreshing, but maybe not quite as memorable as it once was even with the addition of one of my favorite hops. Rating: B (Sorry guys/gals. Must have forgot to get a pic of this one–I’ll update if I find it)

Tangier – I finished off a six pack of this well over a year ago and remember being uninspired by the overall drinking experience–again, not quite as fresh as I would have liked. Opening this I wasn’t expecting a lot having already had some preconceptions. However, fresh it has much of the same running theme of the pack overall–crushable. This is a relatively straightforward IPA with lots of sweet orange aromatics and present with the flavor profile. Finishes slightly bitter with some rind notes on the back end. Rating: B

Nu Skool IPA – To round out the pack it seemed right to finish it off with one of their newest offerings. This beer has strikingly similar appearance to the rest and the aromatics as well as the flavor profile comes together like aF rankenstein monster of all the other beers combined. A grapefruit citrus cocktail with a hint of crackery malt to carry it through, but with a stereotypical bitterness that lingers. An interesting take on their style of IPA that’ll certainly have its place poolside, but nothing that’ll blow your socks off and is a statement point for what you’re in for with all the beers in the pack. Rating: B

Overall – All rock solid beers, but it’s gettin’ hot around here so gimme more of that pilsner!

There ya go. Some hot takes on the five tasty beers in Southern Tier’s Overpacked mixed 15 pack. What say your beer drinkers? Have you had a chance to try all these? If so why are your favorites? Lemme know!

Beer Review: Mocha IPA by Stone Brewing Company

stonemochaipa_tgofAs someone who tends not to drink coffee on a regular basis I’ve always been skeptical about the inclusion of them in my beer. Most of the time you will find that it’s predominantly kept to hefty stouts and porters, but every so often breweries like to push the boundaries of what is typically acceptable. Nowadays you can find the occasional coffee blond ale, or the less surprising coffee brown ale- either of those don’t seem quite as out-of-bounds as you might think–although tasting coffee in a beautifully golden beer is a bit off-putting. Blonde ales are conducive to adapting other flavors due to their low bitterness, but what if someone decided to take the world most bitter style of beer and throw some coffee it in? Like Stone Brewing Company’s new Mocha IPA.

Stone is not the first to cross this threshold. It’s also not their first try. Many might remember just before Stone was available almost everywhere you looked they released their Dayman Coffee IPA. I was not fortunate enough to try that one to compare it to the recent release of Mocha IPA, but one can assume that they are not all that dissimilar.  Mocha IPA is of the imperial variety and uses the talents of Cascade, Citra, and Amarillo hops to pair with the cocoa and coffee flavors. Before we get to that though, the beer pours a deep copper with a thin off-white head. Stone’s reputation of adding crazy amounts of hops to their beer generally sets an expectation when it comes to aroma. The super citrus tones are mostly absent on the nose, replaced by a somewhat funky mix of citrus, cocoa, and coffee. None of the aromas come through cleanly and leave a bit to be desired–the dankness of the hops seems muddled by stale coffee and dark chocolate/fudge notes.  (more…)

Beer Review: Double NZ IPA by Zipline Brewing Company

doublenzipa_tgofZipline Brewing Company (Lincoln, NE) has- over the last few years- posited itself as one of my favorite local breweries. Their beer portfolio probably isn’t going to turn any heads in terms of creativity, but the styles they put out in the market are always top notch in execution. Just this year they decided to axe their NZ IPA, which they referred to as a “fan favorite” and instead released a revamped IPA to the market- one I find to be a significant improvement over the NZ. Not one to disappoint fans they decided not to forget their roots, but expand them by making Double NZ IPA a seasonal release in 750 ML bottles. It’s now up for debate as to whether or not that is a good thing.

We’ll get to my final thoughts on the beer, but lets ease into it, shall we? Double NZ IPA pours beautifully into the glass settling just slightly hazy (possibly some chill haze) bright orange with a medium creamy layer of head- the lacing of which is pretty impressive, again dipping into Zipline’s ability to execute styles. (more…)

Beer Review: Frame the Butcher IPA by Kinkaider Brewing Company

 Growing in popularity in their home state and hailing from Broken Bow, Nebraska is Kinkaider Brewing Company. This micro brewery did something on April 1st that no other brewery in the state has attempted thus far. Bottling a beer, handing it to the distributor, in the hands of several retailers and in the glasses of fans across the state within hours of bottling- thanks in large part to House of Beers, their distributor. The bottling began at 12 a.m CST and this particular beer drinker had it in hand by 9 a.m. and in a glass to drink about an hour later. This sort of thing is common amongst some of the heavy hitters and whalez around the country, but a first here in Nebraska- particularly for a brewery several hours away from my stomping ground in Omaha.

Ok so big deal, right? Any brewery can make, distribute, and sell fresh beer- the real trick is making, distributing GREAT (even good) fresh beer. Luckily enough for anyone sipping this particular beverage, it’s quite good, maybe even quite great. The best way to describe what you’re getting when the beer is poured from their speak yet simple packaged bottles is a mild yet borderline refreshing IPA. The style itself contains a tapestry of hop bombs and bitter drain pours outside of the standbys and trade bait brands. Frame the Butcher doesn’t punch you in the face with any of its aroma or flavor, it settles you in and makes you feel right at home. As someone who tends to like an IPA’s aroma to be just slightly aggressive this beer does not hit that level, but it most definitely works for what Kinkaider is aiming for.  (more…)

Beer Review: Scratchtown Brewing Company Wonder Twins Double IPA

scratchtown_wondertwinsMosaic and citra hops are the hot ingredient this summer for many IPAs hitting the market. It’s not really a mystery, both are delicious as a single hop showcase, so it’s a no-brainer to throw them together and bring the collective of beer geeks to the bring of euphoria. Here in Nebraska we aren’t necessarily hurting for good beer, but we often don’t locally source the types of beers that craft beer junkies are jonesin for and overvalue in trades. In steps Scratchtown Brewing Company with a double IPA that rivals some of the best on the market.

Scratchtown’s Wonder Twins Double IPA comes in a 22oz bottle and is a mosaic/citra hop bomb. Coming out of Ord, Nebraska Scratchtown in and of themselves until recently have not been readily available in many markets outside of their little corner of the world. Their first foray into the bottle distribution game was their Black Eye Imperial Porter- which much like Wonder Twins is a fantastic representation of its style.  (more…)

Beer Review: Modern Times’ Booming Rollers

IMG_5994 Livining in the Midwest, beer lovers often stare longingly out the window dreaming of the golden suds being made out on the West Coast. Folks in California are spoiled by the likes of Pliny the Elder and many of Russian River’s other stellar beers. Now, over the last couple years a new contender for up and coming CA brewery Modern Times has been churning out an impressive lineup of solid beers. This review will focus on their recently released seasonal offering, Booming Rollers.

Billed as a Hoppy Citra IPA per the text on the front of the 16oz can, Booming Rollers is incredibly aromatic right from the opening of the can. There is a slight haze around the glass that only slightly clears up when sitting in the glass for a few minutes, but settles a bright golden color with a thin tightly packed layer of foam.  (more…)

Beer Review: Carton Brewing Company’s Boat Session Ale

cartonboat_tgofMaybe I’m getting soft in my old age. Maybe I’m a little too sensitive about my age, which isn’t that old by traditional standards, but I am a huge fan of the trend of session ales/session IPAs. You get all the flavor with half or less of the ABV that you generally expect from the india pale ale style. It’s the fact that I’m so on board with these low ABV beers that I’m wondering if I’m slipping with age that I don’t crave the challenge of high alcohol beers and side in favor of a beer I can drink all day long with less risk of getting hammered. That being said, it’s been tough finding local session beers that I’m happy to drink all day long. I have my go to’s that I would call “sessionable” but the ABV is technically higher than that word really signifies.

Session beers are beers that you can enjoy in a single sitting or for an extended amount of time without the added risk dying of alcohol poisoning- at least that’s my well thought out explanation. Lots of beers can be described as such though- I can think of several right off the top of my head I could “session,” but because they carry a higher alcohol content my body is gonna hate me in the long run. The trend of Session Ales is meant to bring a beer that is (usually) less than 5% ABV, maybe even less than 4% depending on the style. IPAs are my poison though and if you can give me all the IPA flavor with less of the ABV I will follow you around like a puppy for the rest of my days. Carton Brewing Company is the latest brewery to bear that cross as of late due to a generous Untappd friend who bestowed upon me some cans of their Boat Session Ale.  (more…)

Beer Review: Zipline Brewing Dry-Hopped Black IPA

zipline_blackipaNebraska has been enjoying a bit of a craft beer boom over the last few years. Several new breweries have opened their doors over the last year alone and others are celebrating young anniversaries. The fastest growing of the younger breweries is none other than Zipline out of Lincoln. Zipline expanded distribution for the first time last year across the border into Iowa and recently announced a small expansion to Eastern South Dakota. Their growth in the state is very exciting since they are putting out some pretty solid beers and I’d love to see their name growing in the minds of craft beer nerds all over the country.

Zipline began their bottling sometime in the Fall of 2013 and have slowly been rolling out a number of year round releases such as their Copper Alt, NZ IPA, Nut Brown and Kolsch, but also some larger 750ML Barrel-Aged releases. Their most recent bottled release happens to be the Dry-Hopped Black IPA. As one would expect, this beer pours….black- or a really dark brown as you can see just a bit of highlight around the class from the right angles. It boasts a thin, off white head and once settled appears to be pitch black in the glass- giving it a beautiful black velvety appearance.  (more…)

TGoF’s Year in Beer – 2014

IMG_5433Well, another stellar year of beer drinking is in the books. Four beer fests, several trades and a number of new breweries entering the market it’s entirely safe to say that I had my fill. So, with another 365 days in the rear view- well 325 if you include the 40 days of lent where I took a beer sabbatical- I thought it was time to reminisce on my highlights this year.

I won’t get into too much detail except to list of my favorite beers I was able to try for the first time this year. Maybe even highlight a local brewery to watch out for that opened in 2014. Either way, if you see something below you haven’t tried, it’s safe to say I’d recommend you finding a way to get it in your hands in the near future. Cheers to an equally fulfilling 2015! (more…)

Beer Review: Bell’s Brewery Mars: The Bringer of War

mars_thebringerofwarStone Brewing Company might very well be known for their wide variety of IPAs that hit the market every week, but for beers that I can easily access in my neck of the woods Bell’s has one of the best. Two Hearted by Bell’s Brewery is easily one of my go-to IPAs that I can buy without traveling an unreasonable distance to acquire. Additionally, Hopslam from Bell’s is one of the most drinkable double IPAs money can buy- though we would have to have a discussion about the price tag. As a craft beer drinker the struggle is real for “sticker shock,” or the shock of seeing such high prices on the beer you buy. Sticker shock is really prevalent among bombers and 750 ml bottles which can sometimes have a price tag of $20 and up. A lot of people out there have a hard time justifying dropping that kind of cash for one bottle of something they can’t realistically say they’ll enjoy. Hopslam is one of the priciest six packs I’ve ever plopped down the bills for at $20 and I didn’t regret a single cent.

I was recently able to procure a bottle of Bell’s The Oracle and Mars: The Bringer of War- both double IPAS. I chose to sit and talk about the one I enjoyed the most. Though if you’re curious I’d probably give Oracle a solid B or B-. Sticker shock for the two was not an issue as I paid just over $5 for the pair- as the bottle shop decided to sell them by the bottle. Considering I’ve paid $18 for a single 12 oz beer in the past, I felt like I was getting an incredible deal- especially since The Oracle sold out in less than an hour last year before I could get my hands on it. I was far more interested in getting my hands on the first of Bell’s Planet Series Mars: The Bringer of War though. Partially because it’s new and therefore didn’t have years of hype behind it from past releases and partially because I really like me a good double IPA.

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